Sunday, May 13, 2012

a mother’s love and lanyards

imageHappy Mother’s Day!  

Even though I had three mother’s days this year (British Mother’s Day in March, we were in Spain last week for Spanish mother’s day and then American mother’s day today) I sort of expected the Mother’s Day Celebrations to just sort of skip over us.  Life is busy here and I didn’t expect Jeff to remember that today was the real mother’s day without all the reminders that bombard you when you’re in the US. 

But I woke up to four adorable children bringing me in a big plate of yummy breakfast and cards and Jeff trailing behind with flowers.  I have to say I was totally surprised.  He had snuck out last night while I was putting the kids to bed to get all the stuff and then snuck out of bed early to cook and get everyone all psyched up.  I love that guy.  And I love having my expectations exceeded so sweetly. 

It has been a great day.  A sunny picnic lunch in the back garden after church.  Gifts of my favorite candy.  Interviews with each child – one on one time to remember why I adore being their mom.  Golden time without kids distracting me to think and plan and catch up on a few things….to start to feel more gathered and centered.

I feel so lucky to be a mother.  It is horrific at times, mind you, and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but there is so much good in it, even in the hard bits. 

I love motherhood for a lot of reasons but today as we were sitting at breakfast I started telling my kids the magical bit about motherhood.    They all listened, surprisingly captivated, as I told them how much I loved Hazel when she was first born.  I told them that I couldn’t believe how powerful that love was, that I’d never felt anything like it before.  I told them how I was so worried when Charlie was in my tummy that I would have to divide that love between the two of them.  I told them it was like I had 100 pieces of love for Hazel and I was worried about having to divide that love and only give her 50 and only have 50 for my new baby Charlie.  Would it be enough?  How could it be?  And then, I thought about having a third and only having 33.3 pieces for each and then only 25 pieces when the fourth came along.  They were all quite interested in how I was going to figure out this problem.  How did it work?  How could I divide my love and still have enough?  Had I divided my love?  Did they each only have 25 pieces each?  Hazel and Charlie are really into fairness right now and division, so I had them locked in the conundrum.  Would it work? 

And then Hazel got it.  She said, “I know, it grows!  You get more love.” 

Spot on little lady.  Mother love is magical.  It isn’t divided, it is multiplied.  When Charlie was born I suddenly had 200 pieces of love and then 300 and 400.  And what’s beautiful about that is not just that you have more than enough for each child, but having your heart filled with that much love does something to who you are.  Love edifies and builds and fills and heals….and most importantly, it grows as you give it out.  Thank goodness! 

Charlie was quick to point out that I didn’t only have 400 pieces of love, that I actually had 560 pieces, 160 for dad.  I have told them that as much as I love them I love Jeff even more, so I guess he figured it was at least 60 pieces more. 

I hope more than anything that my children feel loved.  I believe that if I wield my love well it can give my children power and confidence and protection.  I believe that how well I loved them will be the ultimate test of my motherhood.  I need to get better at making sure they feel that love that swells in my heart because it too often gets stuck in there, trapped by my busy-ness or frustration or impatience or just lack of effort to help them feel it.

Today during their little mother’s day interviews I asked them each to tell me when they most feel my love.  I’m not sure they totally understood the question (especially Emmeline whose answer to all my interview questions were either “cheeks” or “Jesus”) but their responses were interesting….not really what I expected, and I realized that I need to become an expert on knowing how they each individually feel loved. I need to work hard to learn to speak their individual languages.

And on that note, I need to go be a mom again.  Everyone is needing me, I’ve been interrupted about 20 times while writing this post.

I meant to integrate this poem into my writing a bit….but now there’s no more time.  Just enjoy it.  Jeff sent this poem to his mom a few mothers days ago.  Oh the gifts we give and receive as mothers.  Despite all we give as mothers, aren’t the gifts of lanyards and home made cards worth their weight in gold?  The love of a child is another magical thing, a topic for another day.

So, this is dedicated to my mother, who has at least a million pieces of love that she spills out over everyone and it just keeps magically multiplying.  I wish I could give her more than a lanyard in return for all her love, instead I pass her love on to my children, and I know in her eyes that is more than enough to somehow make us even.


The Lanyard - Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.



  1. sayd - love you a million trillion. thanks for sharing this. your mother heart has become in so many ways my mother heart, and for that I am forever grateful.

  2. SO beautiful Sayds. I want to be just like you when I "grow up." Love you!

  3. I love that poem by Billy Collins and I also sent it to my mother last year for Mother's Day! Thanks for posting. Kirstin

  4. "The Lanyard" is an incredibly well written poem with a great sense of humor but a much deeper meaning. Great idea to work this into a mother's day post. For those who haven't seen it on youtube yet, check it out. His humor and delivery is perfect.

  5. I love that you take the opportunity on mother's day to tell your children why you love being a mother. What a tone that sets for them, and for your little future mothers.

    And I love the Billy Collins poem. Annie @ Segullah posted it last week with a beautiful spin. The "rueful admission"... it's so precious. Sure love you Saydi. Any chance your coming to UT this summer? Or will England keep you these next few months?

  6. Oh Sayds, you got me crying. Love this - poem, personal thoughts and all. Can we use it on Power of Moms??? Let's talk again soon. Miss you terribly.

  7. perhaps i should read the poem. however, ,i thought your written words were so moving i skipped over the poem. i'm gonna tell my kids that. love you sis.

  8. about the pieces of love i mean.

  9. Oh man, my eyes are full of tears and I can't believe how much of this I forgot since last year. It's so perfect! Please send it every year OK? Miss you so much already. Did we have fun or what?

    Love you forever!



Related Posts with Thumbnails